In case you've been living in a Kentucky Fried Chicken bucket, and haven't heard the news, Chipotle is opening its first London store in April of next year. This got me thinking...which, if any, Brit-Based fast food joints might be cool to have in our humble burg? I haven't been to London, so good old research and a few friends were my inspirational tools. Some of these places sound great, and some sound just plain, well, bloody British.
Pret A Manger - Started in London in 1986 by a couple of college buddies, this take-and-run deli has a staggering menu. Some alluring items include a sausage and mash wrap, or a cured Wiltshire ham and Greve baguette. The sheer number of offerings might send me into permanent indecision-making stasis, but I'd be willing to give it a go.
2) Jenny Lo's Teahouse - It appears to have only one location so far, but maybe Denver could change that? It's not that we don't have quick Cantonese and Szechuan in Denver, but Jenny Lo's menu includes long cooked pork and the salt and pepper prawns Jason Sheehan recently yearned for, which would always be a welcomed addition.
3) Wagamama - Quick Japanese is not an unknown concept to Denver. We have Kokoro, which started right here in town -- and they do a fine job. But Wagamama, which lays claim to 100 locations worldwide, has a helluva lot more choices on its voluminous menu -- everything from udon to ramen to gyoza. I'm devastated that Denver has yet to appear on the business model.
4) Gourmet Burger Kitchen - I may lobby Congress for this one. The menu is littered with the classics that we all know and love, but the satay burger and the "Kiwi" burger with beetroot and egg look really appealing -- or maybe just weird. I often consider the two somewhat synonymous.
5) Best American Pizza - I just thought it would be funny to have a U.K. based pizza joint named "Best American" set up shop in the good ol' US of A and see how quickly it's vandalized, pooped on or burnt down. Actually that's cruel, not funny.
6) Elephant Walk - I'm not sure if this is technically classified as food fast, but they promise prompt and friendly service, which counts for something. Besides, with a menu that features Sri Lankan dishes like deviled chicken and "String Hopper" buriyani, I'm happy to wait a few extra minutes.
7) Hell Pizza - Technically born in New Zealand, but now taking off in the U.K., the name alone caught my eye. The menu has some pretty offbeat offerings. I'm not sure I'd dig the "Pandemonium" pie topped with Camembert cheese, chicken and cranberries, for example. But the website does have little dancing devils providing hours of glee for the easily distracted.
8) Spicy World - I have a hang up with this one, because I wanted so badly to find a pay-at-the-counter restaurant doing authentic Indian food. I'm sure they exist, but what the Brits call "fast food" apparently means a wait that's less than an hour. Still, I'm all over the name because it sounds like a theme park I want to be locked inside of for a very, very long time. There's a curry house on every street corner in London, so if you can't find this one, walk a block.
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9) Scoff Food Delivery - In the time it takes to get a Domino's grease sponge sped to your home, you could have had coq au vin or North African lamb with chickpeas instead. Scoff's menu was most likely designed by the same bloke who did T.G.I. Friday's last run of laminated poster board, but if the food is barely palatable, it could be worth having around.
10) The Fish Club - Thanks to GB Fish and Chips, Denver is not completely devoid of a good fish and chippery. But this pit stop takes it a step further. The menu comes out swinging with sea kittens -- traditional haddock, cuddlefish, skate and rainbow trout -- all fried up nice. If someone wants to do another version of Fast Food Nation and substitute this place for McDonald's, I'm their man.
If you've been to England or actually hail from old foggy London town, put up a few ideas of your own in the comment section, so that if the exchange rate ever crawls out of the shitter, I'll know where to feed.